November 28, 2016

November 28, 2016

NORMAN, OK—November 28, 2016



        The ties that bind families, friends and lovers together are reinforced and strengthened this time of the year.  Old rifts are mended with turkey and gravy.  New bonds are forged over sweet-potato pie.  Those acknowledgements of good fortune and fealty are as filling as stuffing.  Optimism for continued blessings is as soothing as that glass of ginger ale that settles the stomach in preparation for the best nap of the year. Champions are grateful.

        Birthdays are special days for people who are special to other people.  Lonnie Krider was such a person–special to a whole bunch of people as husband, father, grandfather, brother, and good friend to many, a mentor and a gifted and generous musician with a birthday on December 4th.  Skyline kindergarten student Michael Hall celebrates on the 5th of December along with and Bobette Spivey who is a great appreciator of family–not just her own family, but the whole wonderful concept of family.  Dawn Henson celebrates also on the 5th.  She lives in Houston, Texas and has the distinction of having married into the big Henson family.  Hovey is the lucky man.  Ed Bell has a December 6th birthday and people who consider him to be another son, though he had parents of his own.  Zak Godshall is a gifted film maker and a fortunate individual to be loved by Fair Jillian also celebrates that day.  Noam Chomsky was born December 7, 1928.  He is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic and political activist.  He has a wealth of things to say about the current world situation.

More pie!

        Hovie writes to say, “When I was working in the corporate world, I worked on an electronic tool that inspected pipelines.  It was called a pig.  When propelled through the pipeline, it would detect corrosion that would eventually lead to leaks if not corrected.  I think that pipe lines are safe if they are inspected and maintenance is done.”  An Old Champion engineer informs that the theories of maintenance are:  preventative maintenance, predictive maintenance and run-to-failure.  Preventative maintenance is self-explanatory–keep everything greased, dusted, etc. with unrelenting vigilance.  An example of predictive maintenance is sending that pig down the pipeline to assess the integrity of the walls of the pipe and to predict if and when a failure might occur in order to prevent it.  Run-to-failure is to just run it until it breaks and then fix it.  Which philosophy the DPAL will choose is a matter of concern.  They will have the option to do preventative or predictive maintenance, but the fear is that they will choose run-to-failure, as has been proven to be common in that industry, because it will be the least expensive.  It will be the least expensive because they will only count the cost of the repair to the equipment and not the environmental damage which will mostly be picked up by the taxpayer.  Pipeline safety notwithstanding, indigenous peoples have legitimate concerns over water quality (as do we all), the integrity of their sacred sites (think, ‘Arlington National Cemetery’ or ‘Good Hope,’ ‘Yates,’ or ‘Denlow’) and control/autonomy over the land to which they have been relegated, via the Treaty of 1858.  Alternative news sources report great turmoil at Standing Rock this very day—while you are reading this.

Even more pie!

        Hovie goes on to say, “Dawn and I just got back from a great trip.  We cruised down the Snake and Columbia rivers to the Pacific Ocean, following the trail of Lewis and Clark’s corps of discovery.  We had an on board historian that taught classes, with a table full of artifacts, and showed us places of interest, during the day.  In the evening our entertainment was absolutely suburb our piano player had, in the past, performed with Liberace.  Have a good holiday season.  love hovey”  Champions are happy to say they love Hovey too, and have all had a delicious holiday so far with more to come!  Holiday travelers will find themselves at home again with a good storehouse of memories to sort through and enjoy on days when things seem too quiet.  The wonderful onslaught of grandchildren into the Village will leave the old folks satisfied for a while.  The internet has been full of reports of family fun and food.  “When all of God’s singers get home, where never a heartache shall come, there’ll be no place like home when all of God’s singers get home.”  A Champion uncle and Tennessee nephew warmed hearts with their harmonies.  In distant places a grandmother and granddaughter played ‘Heart and Soul’ on mandolin and piano.  Around the country Christmas lights are going up and Christmas music fills the background in restaurants and shopping malls.  The Vanzant Bluegrass Jam will resume on Thursday by which time everyone should have recovered from their feasting.  The Wednesday friends will have stories to tell in the meeting room at the Historic Emporium.  Perhaps it will be warm enough for the horseshoe pitch to be enjoyed.  Perhaps young Chase will get his band back together.

        Across the world regime change is happening.  It all seems tumultuous and unsettling.  The passing of Fidel Castro is the passing of an era.  His ideas shaped the lives of Cubans for generations.  Some say that in this country the current presumed winning party has never approved of democracy, and never will.  It goes back to pre-industrial America, when only white male property owners could vote.  Others say that if you are considered to be an outsider, your views are automatically discounted, particularly if those views do not support their preconceptions.  Come down to the wide, wild, woolly banks of Auld Fox Creek for a glimpse of lovely local preconceptions in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 21, 2016

November 21, 2016

PALESTINE—November 21, 2016


Champions are Thankful for the beauty of home.

        Champions are pleased to join the rest of the Nation in celebrating and expressing Gratitude–that is Gratitude with a capital G.  The highways are full of people going here and there to be with family and friends.  “The kin folks are coming.  They’re coming by the dozens!  Eating everything from soup to hay!”  Many of them are bringing the hay with them so family, friends, and food top the list of things to appreciate.  Add to the list safety for the travelers and the welcome of the home folks and health for all.

        People who are grateful for each other often express those feelings in birthday celebrations or remembrances.  Mabel May (Shannon) Upshaw was born November 20, 1906.  She is gone but not forgotten by a big loving family who filled the internet Sunday talking about what lovely, fun-loving, curious and kind person she was.  In 40 or so years Lizzie’s grandmother will be about 110 years old.  Imagine! They will still be talking about her.  A pretty baby named Clint was being appreciated by folks who talked about what beautiful eyelashes he had, but no one said how old he is today.  Lannie Hinote is celebrating with her friends and students up in Mountain Village, Alaska.  She is having teaching success, coaching success and fishing success so all is well with her.  Skyline students Levi Hicks, 7th grader, celebrates on the 25th; 4th grader, Faith Crawford on the 26th; Billy Strong, 2nd grade, on the 29th; 6th grader, Jhonn Rhodes, and 3rd grader, Lane Watkins, both celebrate on the 30th.  Uncle Al, The Lonesome Plowboy, was born November 27, 1914.  Thanksgiving was on his birthday several times during his life and his son, Willis Masters, baked big pumpkin pies for him decorated with delicate turkeys in purple icing.  They played harmonicas together and music was the undercurrent of family life.  It looks like another Texan, Dave Thompson, will be home with Sue for Thanksgiving and hopefully they will both be back at the Vanzant jam soon.  Last Thursday Norris Woods was remembered by the group there as they sang, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.”  It has been a year since his passing, but the memory of his smile and good humor is still a regular part of the good experience.

        Kevin Gilbert is a videographer from Omaha, Nebraska.  He reported on Sunday that water cannons, tear gas, concussion grenades and rubber bullets were being used on unarmed Protectors in the 20° temperatures.  He said they were blockaded on the bridge with nowhere to retreat.  Senator Sanders has called on the President to take all appropriate measures to protect the safety of the Native Americans protesters and their supporters who have gathered peacefully to oppose construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Our National celebration of Thanks, while genuine and heartfelt, may be seen by some as ringing a little hollow in light of the historic and persistent treatment of the very people who welcomed boatloads of immigrants and religious refugees with generosity and compassion back in 1620.  The National Museum of the American Indian reports that the Wampanoag, who were essential to the survival of the colonists during their first year, ”were a people with a sophisticated society who had occupied the region for thousands of years.  They had their own government, their own religious and philosophical beliefs, their own knowledge system, and their own culture.  They were also a people for whom giving thanks was a part of daily life.”  Their world changed even as the world is changing today in unprecedented ways.  Justice Sotomayor said, “But we can’t afford to despair, and we can’t afford to give up our pursuing of values that we and others have fought so hard to achieve.  And so for me, this is a challenge.  So I’m going to continue doing what I think is the right thing.  That’s the challenge we all have to face.”

        Fall has come to Champion finally with temperatures in the 20s and 30s.  This week the neighborhood will be full of visitors from Tennessee and other lovely places.  The place will be overrun with grandchildren.  The gathering at Teeter Creek will be festive and well attended drawing friends and family from around the area.  Champion travelers are headed to Iowa and other points north to be in the warmth of family.  Some have gone south through the Boston Mountains.  Arkansas may have had more rain or less heat than we have had at home, resulting in brilliant fall foliage.  Sunday morning’s hard frost blanched the ground and sent clouds of mist and fog rising from springs and streams in the deep mountain folds.  White billows rose lazily up from the rivers and lakes all to be met with dazzling sunshine and shades of red, yellow, gold and green in an ethereal landscape.  On farther south the topography is less severe and more green as Champion grandparents pause in Palestine to enjoy the Steam Train Festival on their way to see grandchildren.  From one end of the country to the other, people are enjoying the beauty of their surroundings and the preciousness of family and friends.  Go to to look back on ten years of giving thanks and see how many times this song has been referenced:  “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.  The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Leaving the Boston Mountains on a frosty morning.

November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016

CHAMPION—November 14, 2016


Dramatic evening skies in Champion

        It has been marvelous in Champion this week with Tuesday the only dreary day; however, the promised rain did not materialize.  For the rest, it has been sunny and heading finally in the direction of seasonal temperatures.  The Prominent Citizen spoke up to say that there was an unusually high voter turnout for this election on Tuesday—480 in all.  Numbers reveal that fewer than half of the Nation’s voters are contented with the outcome.  Of course, Yogi Berra was fond of saying, “The opera ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings.”  This opera will be over on the first Monday after the second Tuesday of December, which this year happens to be on the 19th, when the Electoral College does its voting.  The World Series proved exciting all the way to the bottom of the 10th inning.  Yogi said, “You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you.”  “There are some people who, if they don’t already know, you can’t tell ‘em.”  Champions agree with Yogi that “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

        Last week the Frontiersman from Champion North rode his old one speed bicycle the seven miles from his home…down C Highway and then down WW to the Bright Side.  It must have been an adventure, pushing the bicycle up the hills and riding the brake on the way down them.  Elmer corroborated the event and provided some help getting the traveler home as he was in no condition to make his return trip by bicycle.  By Wednesday he was in fine fettle again and able to significantly best his rival, the Hooligan, 11 to 4, on the Champion Horseshoe Pitch.  It must have been humiliating.  On Friday the loser was seen leaving town in a hurry.  He had apparently been sneaking in a practice session.

        The quarter mile walking trail at the Skyline School is getting some regular use by students and by folks in the neighborhood.  It was a welcome gift from the Douglas County Health Department.  The Missouri Foundation for Health is providing grant money to buy some upper body strengthening equipment for our school grounds as well.  The PTO will help fund the installation of the equipment and will get some credit for promoting healthy habits for a lifetime.  The archery program is being successful again this year, building strength, confidence and skill.  In other good news, skillful handling of resources by the administration and staff has enabled the purchase of 15 new chrome books for use in the elementary classrooms.  The YEP group is helping with the cost of the computer cases.  The wonderful annual music program of the Skyline students will be held on December 8th this year and everyone is invited to come even if you do not have children or grandchildren in school.  It is a chance to see the hope of the future as these young citizens share their talents and enthusiasm with their community.

        Music is good medicine.  Young Chase, however, was overly sugared for his Wednesday gig out on the Wide Veranda, and so old McDonald’s farm only had ducks and cows and horses.  The cookies and popsicles he enjoyed while waiting for his music friends to show up seemed to fry his attention span on that occasion.  He will soon be learning about the old lady who swallowed the fly and the old man who played knick knack on his thumb.  Nick and Doris Hula have friends or family who live in the Vanzant area (Champion East) and they stop in every year, we hope, for a visit on their way from their home north of Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame), New York to their winter home in McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley.  It was nice to meet them.  Nick plays a 1908 Gibson mandolin and Doris plays the chromatic harmonica—she is a corker–nice folks.  Dave Thompson is a nice guy who has been absent from the bluegrass jam for a couple of weeks, lounging around in some cardiac care unit.  Hopes are that he will get his hat out of the creek and come back soon with his big guitar and fine voice crooning to his Quebec girl, Sue, his belle.  It will be lovely to see them both again.

        Very good news comes from the Prominent Champion Girlfriend who declares herself to be on the mend.  She has turned a corner and is getting stronger every day.  The boyfriend was seen cutting capers at that good news.  Jenna and Jacob will be helping their grandpa celebrate a big birthday on November 18th.  Sweet Elva Ragland will celebrate on the 19th.  Seamus, Lizzy and Zak have a facinating grandmother with a birthday on November 23rd…lucky kids.

        Each side of any controversy has its champions.  The side with the money and the media generally is considered to be the right side.  No one denies the historic abuse of First Nations people and some observe that it is rampant yet today.  The courage to persevere and to continue the struggle for the preservation of the sacred sites of the native peoples and the water of all the people is courage that will go unsung.  Still people will be out there in the cold and wind standing against purchased power in peaceful protest.  A spokesman for the Sioux tribe says they are not opposed to energy independence and economic development, “the problem we have—and this is a long history of problems that evolved over time—is where the federal government or corporations take advantage of indigenous lands and indigenous rights.”  Meanwhile, an outfit called Bold Nebraska works on issues including eminent domain, clean energy, small family farms and small business standing up for property rights and standing with citizens to work to protect the land, water and climate.  Nathan Mackenzie Brown writes, “Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind DAPL, is abusing eminent domain laws to take over prime farmland in America’s breadbasket so that they can lay a pipeline across the Mississippi River to transport oil.  An 81 year-old-Iowa farmer, Shirley Gerjets, is hosting Water Protectors on her land in a desperate attempt to save her family farm and protect the water supply of millions of Americans from contamination.”  In his writing Brown also asserts that it is not a matter of ‘if’ a pipeline leaks but ‘when.’  It turns out that there are 2.4 million miles of pipelines across America already, 72,000 miles of crude oil pipeline.  There is a line that runs from Oklahoma through Springfield up to St. Louis and one that runs from the Jonesborough, Arkansas area up through Poplar Bluff.  Our area of the Ozarks Plateau is an empty spot on the big National pipeline map.  Lucky are you folks born here…and lucky the rest of us who found our way here.  Just because there are no pipelines through our Douglas County does not mean that our water is safe.  Dr. Masaru Emoto wrote that water connects us all and that all water is connected.

        Saturday night the air was still and clear bringing temperatures down to the low 20s.  The big waxing moon was clearly visible those nights with dark areas of the lunar seas and the lighter highlands of the lunar surface….all put together give us the illusion of an image of the Man in the Moon.  Planters by the signs will still have time to get their garlic in the ground on the 16th.  Come down to the wide tranquil banks of Auld Fox Creek for a view of one of the truly beautiful places in the world.  It is in the middle of one of the nice open spots.  Go to www.championnews for images and stories of the happenings at the end of the pavement.  Hank Wilson’s alter ego passed away in his sleep at the age of 74.  He sang, “I love you in a place where there’s no space and time.  I love you for my life.  You are a friend of mine” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Stinky Rose

November 7, 2016

November 7, 2016

CHAMPION—November 7, 2016


Days are getting shorter in Champion.

        Autumn arrived over the week end.  We all knew that it was coming; still the sudden little chill was a surprise.  Champions will bundle up as whiffs of wood smoke perfume the air and the change of seasons reminds aging sages of the swift passage of time.  Subtle shades soften green going to brown.

        Pete Proctor writes to The Champion News to say that the Southside Baptist Church there in Mountain Grove is hosting a Veterans Breakfast on November 10th at 8:00 a. m.  All Veterans are welcome.  Pete keeps up with those things and his Champion friends and neighbors appreciate it and appreciate his service as well as the service of all our Veterans.  November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada and the United Kingdom.  The observance began in 1918, and is still called Armistice Day in France and Belgium.  For many people, ‘Remembrance’ is associated with the fallen of the First and Second World Wars, but guys like Pete help raise awareness of his own generation’s service and a new generation of Veterans and Service personnel that need support–Champions all.

        Chuck Barns had his birthday on November 11–Veteran’s Day.  He passed away back in 2002, at the age of 85.  He learned heavy construction in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.  During World War II, he worked on the Alcan Highway in Alaska.  It was always interesting to visit with him up at The Plant Place, to hear him talk about having raised artichokes in Tasmania and tell stories about the various exotic places where he had lived and worked.  He made an exciting bridge partner.

        Birthdays are fun.  Miley’s mama had a milestone birthday on Wednesday the 2nd, but Miley said, “Shhh!  It’s a secret!”  Skyline fifth grade student, Hailey Hall, had a birthday November 4th.  Mason Solomon, third grader, enjoyed his on the 7th.  Lizzie’s granddad was born November 8, 1946.  (Wow!)  Fourth grader, Justin Borders, had his day on November 9th.  Jill Sterling is a sterling gal.  She lives in Tulsa and will be celebrating on the 13th, as will Skyline’s first grade teacher, Madelynn Vivod.  For a while Lizzie’s granddad was as old as his brother, but then Waldo’s Champion Rich leapt ahead again to become a year older on the 15th.  Raven Hull is in the fifth grade at Skyline with a birthday on the 16th and Caleb Barker, first grader, has his birthday on the 17th.  He also has a granddad–such a fortunate lad.  Upon marking the anniversary of one’s birth, a little acknowledgement of the miraculous nature of it combines sweetly with gratitude.

        Just imagine how different things might have been if, in 1864, the folks at Sand Creek had had the advantage of the internet and wide spread social media focused on the superior forces of the Colorado U.S. Volunteer Cavalry so that the whole world could witness their actions, or focused on the U.S.  7th Cavalry Regiment at Wounded Knee in 1890, backed up by a battery of Hotchkiss mountain guns.  Perhaps things would have turned out differently.  Certainly that is the hope in the current situation at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  While not nearly all of the information that comes to us over the internet is verifiable, much of it is.  On the ground now are many hundreds of people native to that land joined by their American neighbors and global neighbors from Japan, Russia, Germany, Australia, Israel and Serbia, as well as Aztecs from Mexico and Amazonian indigents.  Maori of New Zealand recorded a fearsome Haka and Palestinians, Mongolians and Tibetans have voiced support.  The support is for the Sioux people and for the Water of the World.  It may be chaotic in the neighborhood there with road blocks, the great influx of sympathizers and the overwhelming presence of the riot police with their tactical vehicles.  Most likely people in the little towns around the area are being inconvenienced and their lives disrupted by the pipeline protesters/water protectors.  It may also be heart breaking to think that the many U.S. Veterans among the Native Americans are now being intimidated by the military force of the very Nation they served.  In this instance, the militarized constabulary, enabled by compromised politicians, is allied with industry for profit.  The hope is that intense public scrutiny will prevent repetition of 19th century tragedies and some positive resolution can be reached.  A great solar flare or a sudden reversal of Earth’s magnetic polarity might wipe out the internet, but until then the Nation’s eyes are slowly opening to appreciate clean water in a clean glass as a human right as well as the rights of people to preserve their family gravesites.  In a sea of information we thirst for wisdom.

        Some Champions have been awash in convivial good feelings, riding the victorious wave of the Chicago Cubs.  “Ah!  When pigs fly!” they all had said.  In a country weary of vitriol, some good news for underdogs was well received.  Of course, Cleveland wanted to win too and both teams put out genuine effort.  The game was replayed over coffee cups and dinner tables for days with criticism and vindication.  The Wednesday gathering will have things to talk about this week.  Last week the get-together was augmented by Sarah Sikes, up visiting from Richland Hills, Texas, over by Ft. Worth.  A regular guest over the years, she was once here when the Skyline VFD Auxiliary Ladies had a big shoot out.  They gathered up their old toasters, coffee pots, and other things that did not work, and blasted the daylights out of them out in a pasture.  The spent brass added up to pounds and the exercise gave some release from pent up political passions at the time.  Area ladies are well armed.  The horseshoe pitchers played without an audience and wandered back inside without much to say about the experience.  Marshfield native, Kaitlyn McConnell, stopped by for a visit.  She had been to the barbershop in Ava for the Wednesday morning jam, which she said was great.  She was going back through town to visit at the high school music department to find out about the area String Project that carries on the tradition of Bob Holt.  She is finding good stories in these parts for her Ozarks Alive page.  Young Chase, another music man, was otherwise occupied and so the trio was diminished and a little lack-luster but struggled through a few tunes.  Thus far, efforts to wrest a delightful little banjolin from the ownership of a gentleman who only likes it for its looks, has been to no avail.  He likes to “drink his java from an old tin can while the moon goes riding high.  He likes to hear the call of the whippoorwill and to hear the coyote whine.”  One imagines that when he is out on his tractor, all by himself, that he can yodel like Gene Autry.

        Enjoy the sights of Champion at  Express your surprise by email at or your delight via your esteemed postal carrier at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Make inquires at both places.  Come on down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for a breath of fresh air and a sip of pure spring water.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 1, 2016

Buffalo Join Pipeline Protest

By Wilda Moses

Over the week end there was a report of a great herd of wild buffalo that appeared unexpectedly at one site of confrontation along the Dakota Access Pipeline project.  Their presence adds an almost cinematic perspective that suggests history is happening now.  Through the years there have been many conspiracy theorists who warned about the dangers of militarized police being used against peaceful people standing up for their rights.  It is happening.  Representatives of the United Nations and Amnesty International have been alerted to the chaotic situation at the Standing Rock Reservation of the Sioux in North Dakota.  Heavily militarized police and National Guard are allied with the pipeline company which is pursuing a project that has seriously questionable legality and unaddressed ramifications for the indigenous people and for millions of people downstream who rely on the Missouri River.  The people have been defending their sacred sites, their land and water for months with scant attention from the media.  Their numbers are growing and perhaps the sight of thousands of buffalo will encourage them to hold their ground.  Certainly the numbers of the constabulary are growing, with their tanks, assault rifles, riot gear, rubber bullets, sound cannons, mace, pepper spray and, on occasion, vicious attack dogs.  There are also reports of infiltrators among the peaceful, prayerful, unarmed people who are directed to incite violence in order provide law enforcement with justification for their ruthlessness.  Those 147 and more people who have been arrested in Morton County have been subjected to brutality and humiliation commensurate with the degree of respect historically afforded indigenous people.  The current situation is reminiscent of the difficulties at Wounded Knee in 1973.  The injustices of that historic period persist even as Leonard Peltier languishes.  The buffalo and the tribes coexisted in harmony long before the European invasion.  To many the American buffalo is a symbol of sacred life and abundance.  To others it is a symbol of strength and unity.  It also serves as a reminder of what greed can cost us.  Buffalo narrowly escaped extinction.  How will buffalo or any living thing exist without water?